Supplements My Mom Takes
In a recent Q&A I was asked about Berberine, a polyphenol compound best known for its effects on blood sugar regulation, to which I responded “I keep my mom on it.” The following question that came was, “What else does your mom take?”
The question made me chuckle, but its insinuation is an important one. What the question was really asking was, “What are the highest benefit, lowest risk supplements out there?” You know, the ones you’d want your mother on. Well, I believe the list of “Even my mom takes...” supplements to be the following:
Improving your Vitamin D status may do far more for your health and longevity than any workout or diet plan. Plus, it has virtually no potential for side effects so long as basic nutrition is where it needs to be (more on this below). Vitamin D deficiency, or having blood levels similar to 69.5% of Americans and 86.4% of Europeans (beneath 30 ng/mL), has been shown to increase risk of Alzheimer’s, dementia, breast cancer, heart disease, myocardial infarction, and early death from all causes.
The good news? Vitamin D3 is the easiest and one of the lowest cost biomarkers to improve. Unlike decreasing inflammation or cholesterol, Vitamin D literally requires only that you “pop a pill.”
The bad news? Most docs do not recognize what it takes to bring Vitamin D status to where it needs to be. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) in the U.S., is a measly 400IU’s per day. Unfortunately, even those with subtle deficiencies need at least 10X that much per day for 2-3 months to bring their Vitamin D into range. Ergo, most people are not doing enough to even keep their status where it is, never mind cure their deficiency.
This begs the question, “Why is the RDA so alarmingly low?” I believe it has something to do with how unhealthy and nutrient deprived the population is on average. As the body is complex and nothing exists in isolation, increasing the RDA of Vitamin D would make modifications necessary across the board. Vitamin D, once inside the body, requires Vitamin K and Vitamin A (in the form of retinol, not the form in multivitamins or what you get from carrots) in high amounts to be utilized. Without also lifting these other nutrients, the FDA could not lift the RDA for Vitamin D, even though deficiencies in Vitamins A and K are likely just as bad as what we are seeing with Vitamin D.
My mom and I both take a minimum of 2,000IU per day of Vitamin D using this liquid D3/K2 which also contains Vitamin K in an ideal ratio to Vitamin D. On days without sun exposure, or that are spent on a plane or under a lot of stress, we bump that to 5,000IU - 10,000IU (or up to 20 drops of the liquid above).
For Vitamin A, the two best sources are cod liver oil and grass-fed butter.
Berberine is one of only a few compounds on the planet that can activate AMPK, a noted “anti-aging" enzyme, that’s most commonly activated by regular aerobic exercise. AMPK increases glucose and fatty acid uptake in our cells, hereby increasing insulin sensitivity and lowering cholesterol levels.
Sound like a miracle pill? Well, it does to me too. A 2009 study in the Journal of Metabolism comparing the effectiveness of 500mg of Berberine after meals with 500mg of Metformin, found Berberine was equally effective at stabilizing blood sugar as the pharmaceutical drug in Type 2 Diabetes patients.
If you tend to skip the gym, don’t skip the Berberine. My mom takes 200mg Berberine morning and night, I take 500mg. Note: She takes a B-Complex as well to support Berberine, and takes 2 weeks off of Berberine every time she runs out (every 30 days). You can find the Berberine my mom and I take in my Thorne Dispensary.
Pyrroloquinoline Quinone and Ubiquinol
Pyrroloquinoline Quinone, or PQQ, could be one of the most powerful substances in your supplement cabinet. This co-factor is a powerhouse that’s up to 5,000x more powerful against stress than Vitamin C and protect and serve your mitochondria, the part of your cells that produce 100% of your energy. Mitochondrial dysfunction, or decreasing numbers in the total number of mitochondria in our cells, has been linked to rapid aging, fatigue, and cancer.
Ubiquinol is the active form of a Co-Q10. Ubiquinol works within the mitochondria to stimulate and support energy production. So PQQ is working to repair and maintain the total number of mitochondria inside our cells and Ubiquinol is working inside those highly functioning mitochondria to more efficiency produce energy.
Now, a lot of people, like my mom, were told to take Co-Q10 assuming they’d get the benefits of Ubiquinol. While healthy people under 30 are just fine taking a Co-Q10 supplement, those over 30 are going to get far better results with a smaller dose of Ubiquinol because it skips the conversion steps inside the body — it’s already in the active form to get to work.
My mom and I both take 1-3 capsules of PQQ/Ubiquinol per day via this product from Jarrow.
Meriva is a highly absorbable form of curcumin, an extract from turmeric root. Turmeric has been used medicinally since the dawn of medicine and has it’s roots in Ayurvedic tradition as both a powerful antioxidant and extremely effective anti-inflammatory agent. Turmeric is truly nature’s Advil, and the high doses present within Indian soups and stews pack a major nutritional punch. The only problem with that is that my mom isn’t going to have Indian food for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7-days per week, and I’m still working on getting her into Golden Milk! The real magic of turmeric and the reason you need such high dosages is that curcumin only comprises about 5% of the total compound, and needs fat to be absorbed (which is likely why many of those Ayurvedic soups and stews also contain large amounts of ghee, or clarified butter).
Meriva is the most clinically studied form of curcumin on the planet and offers 29x greater absorption than ordinary curcumin due to it’s encapsulation inside of a fat molecule. Curcumin is also an AMPK activator, like Berberine, which makes it likely to improve longevity and overall health. Furthermore, studies have shown less than 1000mg curcumin per day can foster “remarkable improvements” in patients ranging from those with severe depression all the way up to Alzheimer’s. You can find the Meriva my mom and I take in my Thorne Dispensary.
Other supplements you’ll find in my mom’s kitchen include cod liver oil, multi-collagen protein, B-Complex, MCT oil, and magnesium.